Whole Parenting Family

#Edel14: texas, 2 month old, Catholic ladies, rap karaoke

#edel14 whole parenting familyA follow up letter after my open letter to my electronic friends who gathered in Texas:

My dear readers,

BabyLoves and I went to Texas for the Edel Gathering. We made it there and back. Together. Attached by the sling, as it were. The weekend was lovely, truly lovely, for so many reasons. It was, in many parts, whatever the attendee made of it. If you wanted private time to ponder, think, and just breathe, there was that available without the rigors of a jam-packed schedule. If you wanted to chat it up with new friends, hit Austin together, hang by the pool, there was that.


If you were me and rooming with a very old friend whom you hadn’t seen in six years, and had your two month old in tow, you would probably do what I did: rest and hang by the hotel. In between sessions I had to head back to the room to rest. Given that it took me almost 7 weeks to recover from bebe’s epic birth, I should have known I’d be beat up by travel. Good thing there was lots of chocolate around.

I didn’t see any of Austin, except the Cathedral for confession and mass. And we’re okay with that, me & the bebe. I didn’t get to the pool. I didn’t get to the outside restaurants. I didn’t get to the late night fun talks with ladies. I didn’t even get to see the amazing karaoke past 10pm. A little person attached to me had had enough falling asleep in the sling, being jolted awake, and falling back asleep.

In a way, I felt left out voluntarily. I missed opportunities to really meet everyone. I didn’t get to do things I would have if I hadn’t had my tiny bambino and postpartum energy level. But it was good because my approach was one of real openness without an agenda.

What I did get to do was listen. I reconnected with my old friend. I embraced and met in person my dear blogging buddies. And I listened to BabyLoves laugh so many times because I was simply a fully accessible mother to my little 10 week old. Usually he’s hushed and shushed and bouncing around in the sling while I chase after his four year old brother and two year old sister, wiping bottoms, separating tantrums, and doling out dinner. This weekend, he was an only child and me a woman with both ears available to listen.


While listening to the beautiful introductions and talks done by Jenny from Mama Needs Coffee, Hallie from Moxie Wife, Marion from wish-she-had-a-blog, Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas, and of course, Jen from Conversion Diary–Jen’s mom, aunts, and uncle helped and were awesome–I got to smile and coo with my second son. I got to breastfeed without covering up, in a room full of mothers with their babies either inside or outside the womb. I got to soak up the support and love and roars of tears we shared over our different, but convergent paths.

Lest you think we just talked about mothering, blogs, and our husbands, I’ll have you know one of my favorite writers and now real-life-friends rocked my world with rapping along to a song I didn’t know (because you know how ignorant of normal culture we are around here, just classical music & kids’ music), and when she did the robot dance, and dropped the hot mic, wearing her rockin’ vintage dress, the crowd went crazier than a sorority at pledge week (not that I actually know about it, but may have crashed a party during college, thanks MTB).

I met women who were grandmothers and women who were single. Women who were moms of 6 and women pregnant with their first. I met some sweet ladies from Minnesota (woot woot!) and others from all across the country. And when Jen Fulwiler told us that we were busting open the doors of the cathedrals we were individually building, in isolation, and streaming into each other’s to help with the work, I thought: Hell, yes. 

So please, start a blog so I can get to know you, too, gentle reader. And know you’re not alone in your path of womanhood. I got your back, and a couple hundred Catholic women have mine, so you’re covered.



  1. cajuntexasmom on July 28, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Loved reading your perspective! Thanks for sharing and making me wish I couldve held that sweet bebe for you a while.

    • Natural Mama Nell on July 29, 2014 at 12:09 am

      You are so sweet!! He had to nurse most of the time so all you wonderful women couldn’t have really helped anyway. It was okay to not be in the middle of the action–and just loved meeting ya’ll.

  2. Kelli on July 29, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Love your recap (seriously, all these recaps are making me cry). So happy to have met you! Glad you got some time to recover…and glad we can now stay in touch (Edel15?) and bust open the cathedral doors together with all the other catholic mamas!

    • Natural Mama Nell on July 29, 2014 at 7:56 am

      So happy to have met you! Edel15 for sure! This was just the beginning!

  3. Amy @ Motherhood and Miscellany on July 29, 2014 at 8:48 am

    I’m so mad at myself that I didn’t meet you. I did not anticipate being so shy about introducing myself to people. I hovered nearby a few times, but never actually spoke up! Ugh. I did have a wonderful time, and I’m glad I have discovered your blog to stalk until Edel15 🙂 I’m so glad you had a good time too!

    • Natural Mama Nell on July 29, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Amy!!Oh my gosh you silly goose! Well now let’s connect electronically and be friends til we meet in persona at #edel15 🙂

      • Amy @ Motherhood and Miscellany on July 29, 2014 at 10:56 pm

        Yes, I’d like that 🙂 BTW, I loved your “Epic birth story” of L&D with your newest babe. I had a similar experience with my second baby, (who was my first actual labor since my first daughter needed to be delivered via c-section). It made me smile, and wince, at the memories when reading your experience 🙂

  4. Lauren on July 29, 2014 at 10:33 am

    Oh, how I loved meeting you! You are full of a special peacefulness and grace that was inviting and inspiring! I look forward to following you, my now in-real-life friend! God bless you!

    • Natural Mama Nell on July 29, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Lauren, you’re so kind. I love your blog & your beautiful business. You had a warm calm and a sincere smile and I loved both! God bless & can’t wait to get to know you better between now and #edel15 🙂

  5. Jenny on July 29, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    I loved meeting you and I loved seeing you sling that baby all over the hotel. I was also a little more room-bound than I’d anticipated being with my little roomie, but it was still so good.

    • Natural Mama Nell on July 29, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Jenny, you’re a gem. A true rock! Yes–traveling with our bambinos seemed like we’d be carefree (well, at least toddler-free), but I was surprised that when he was done, he was done, and therefore I was done-in and missed out on the late night fun. Next year!

  6. Helen on July 29, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    It sounded like such a great, great gathering, Nell. Though I’m an ocean away I wished I could have been there! (It is a good idea that deserves to go world-wide.) Oh, and I think often about blogging, but then I think about all the time it would take…

    • Natural Mama Nell on July 29, 2014 at 10:29 pm

      Oh Helen you would have loved it! Yes, blogging does take time but it gives so much back!

  7. Viki on July 29, 2014 at 10:21 pm


    So great to meet you and your sweet baby at Edel, even if it was just on the ride back to the airport. 🙂 I loved your post. Look forward to getting to reading future posts and digging through old ones.

    God bless,
    Viki (from Miami)

    • Natural Mama Nell on July 29, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      It was so great to chat with you & Carmen! And hear about your beautiful little one. Thanks for tuning in & looking forward to getting to know you better!

  8. Erica Saint @ Saint Affairs on July 30, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    I love all of the Edel recaps. We women need to know that their are other women out their whose goals are the same even when the path is different. I hope I get to go next year! 🙂

  9. Kathy H on July 30, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Nell! It was so great to meet another MN mama! You are so sweet and authentic 🙂 can’t wait to meet up again sometime!

  10. giedre on August 1, 2014 at 10:01 am

    aw, that sounds like so much fun! I think I’ll have to do my best to come next time!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 1, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      It was such a blast, Giedre!

  11. Cristina on August 2, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    Thank goodness for you and your Catholic peep posse. I need it!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 4, 2014 at 7:05 am

      We are all in this together, right, sweet lady?

  12. Charlotte on August 3, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    I am really loving all of the Edel recaps. I wasn’t able to attend but I’m enjoying finding all these new blogs to add to my reader as you all chat about meeting each other!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 4, 2014 at 7:04 am

      Hurrah! Welcome, Charlotte!

  13. Suzanne on August 8, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    So, just before I started reading yours and some other Edel recaps and reflections, I had been feeling a pretty strong nudge to start a blog. I was definitely mulling it over, but also feeling a little presumptuous, because, seriously, who wants to read about my day-to-day? But then reading your post and especially your last few lines, I knew I had to do it. I had to jump in and let the Holy Spirit show me the way (there is no doubt in my mind He is the one pushing me this way, even here, to your blog). So I just wanted to say, thank you for your post, and thank you for writing what was on your heart. I’m excited to join in!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 11, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      Awesome! Let me know when you’re live!